Founder & CEO
The Native Trails story is in large part the story of its chief visionary, Naomi Neilson. Naomi founded Native Trails in 1996 and is best known for introducing the company’s iconic copper basins to the world - effectively helping to establish hand-hammered copper as a mainstay material for luxury kitchens and baths.
Naomi’s entrepreneurial spirit, along with her pursuit of innovative designs, artistry, and sustainable practices, propelled Native Trails while she attended college at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where the company is also headquartered. Enamored by the talent of artisans she met during her early travels to Mexico and Morocco, Naomi enjoyed bringing home art from exotic locales so others could also experience it. She researched and traveled extensively, visiting remote villages where artisans practiced ancient craft traditions. As an advocate for indigenous peoples and fair practices, Naomi began providing craftspeople with design and operational guidance, helping initiate a reliable revenue stream for their local economies also introducing the artisans’ handiwork into homes throughout the world.
Today, Native Trails’ artisans construct their products in facilities located in Vietnam, Mexico, and the United States using fair and sustainable practices. Native Trails ships its award-winning products to more than 1,300 showrooms across the U.S. and Canada, while its website, nativetrails.net, offers sales beyond North America.
Naomi is one of the few female leaders in the sustainable kitchen/bath industry – an industry that is heavily reliant on female consumers. Her leadership has been recognized by Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association (DPHA), naming Naomi Manufacturing Professional of the Year in 2005. She has also been featured in San Luis Obispo’s 2009 “Top 20 under 40” list.
Having built a multinational business now in its 20th year, Naomi still finds inspiration in the people, culture, art, and traditions in villages around the world – including her own backyard where Native Trails employs artisans from California’s Central Coast. She continues to seek out new materials and designs, as well as artisanal and sustainable practices for Native Trails.
Naomi currently lives in the San Luis Obispo area with her two children.
Look for Tim Blair, President of Native Trails, and you’re as likely to find him in our San Luis Obispo, California, office running an in-depth sales or financial analysis as you are to find him in the shipping department providing hands-on quality assessment on one of our artisan-crafted bathroom vanities. He could be conducting a leadership meeting, researching SEO strategies, or on a plane to meet with Native Trails artisans in Mexico or Vietnam. Multi-talented and indispensable to the tight-knit Native Trails team, Tim is everywhere we need him to be—which, for a thriving small business, is many, many places on a given day.
Tim originally consulted with Native Trails to provide management, marketing, and SEO strategies. His strong business background and passion for social and sustainability issues soon proved a perfect match for the company, and in 2009 he came on full time as Executive Vice President; in 2013 he was promoted to President. In this role, he oversees daily operations and staff and works closely with CEO Naomi Neilson on company strategy, finance, and marketing. Tim also helps with the development of product offerings through overseas supply sources and the implementation of fulfillment systems.
Prior to Native Trails, Tim’s diverse background in sectors such as market research, financial forecasting, merchandising, product development, supply chain logistics, and customer relationship management led him to open a business consultancy, which he operated for five years. He also previously served as Executive VP of The Parable Group and President of Parable Holdings, a marketing group for independent bookstores across the U.S. and Canada. There, he was instrumental in leading branding, franchise development, database marketing and developing online strategy and websites.
Tim has been a life-long humanitarian, focusing his patronage on homelessness, hunger, and sustainability concerns. Locally, he participates in several community service projects, including First Fruits Farm and SLO Housing Connection. Outside the office, he enjoys organic gardening, writing children’s stories and poetry and spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren.